Saturday, August 08, 2009

OFFICIAL: Liverpool Sign Alberto Aquilani From Roma On Five-Year Deal

Roma midfielder Alberto Aquilani has passed a medical and agreed a five-year contract with Liverpool.

Reds boss Rafael Benitez identified Italy international Aquilani as his preferred replacement for Xabi Alonso, who joined Real Madrid for around £30million earlier this week.

Liverpool had a bid of around £20million for Aquilani accepted by Roma on Wednesday before the player headed to Merseyside for a medical and contract talks.

The now former Roma man is expected to be at Anfield on Saturday to witness his new team-mates take on Atletico Madrid in the club's final pre-season friendly before next weekend's big kick-off.

Aquilani dispelled fears over the ankle injury that needed surgery this summer and restricted his appearances for the Serie A club last season.

But he will not be fit to face Tottenham next Sunday in the Premier League season opener at White Hart Lane.

Announcing the deal on the club website, a Liverpool statement read: "Liverpool FC confirmed this evening that Alberto Aquilani has successfully completed a medical and agreed a 5-year contract with the club.

"The player will now continue his rehabilitation from an ankle operation under the guidance of Liverpool's medical team and is expected to be fully fit in approximately 4-8 weeks time."

Aquilani is believed to be earning around £80,000 a week.

Liverpool On Cattermole Alert After Wigan Swoop For Spanish Duo

Wigan are closing on a double signing that gives clear indication they may be losing Lee Cattermole.

Manager Roberto Martinez moved to agree a £3.5million deal for highly-rated Rayo Vallecano midfielder Mohamed Diame and his teammate centre half Antonio Amaya.

It follows Wigan also striking an agreement with Chelsea to loan Scott Sinclair for the season but shows concern that prized asset Cattermole could leave before the window closes.

Sunderland have made two bids already while Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton are all monitoring his situation with Wigan reluctant to sell.

The England U21 midfielder, though, wants to press his claims for a place in Fabio Capello's full squad and bids of around £10million could prove successful.

French-born Diame, 22, has been watched by Arsenal, Barcelona and Real Madrid but Wigan have moved quickly to pull off a real coup.

Amaya is a 6ft 4ins centre half and will give Martinez cover for Titus Bramble.

Alberto Aquilani Is A Player With Quality – Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt

Dirk Kuyt believes that Liverpool will have a quality player in Alberto Aquilani - should the player’s proposed move from Roma go through successfully - and has urged his team-mates to concentrate on mounting a serious Premier League challenge, despite losing Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid.

Kuyt spoke right after the game against Lyn Oslo, and was unaware that the Reds had agreed upon a fee for the transfer of Aquilani from his Eternal City employers.

"I was just focused on the game, but if it’s correct that he is signing and the deal happens, then it’s good because we will be signing a new player with a lot of quality," Kuyt is quoted in The Liverpool Echo as saying.

When asked if the departure of Alonso to Real Madrid will harm the club in any way, the 29-year-old attacker responded by saying that the Reds will have to move on, irrespective of the consequences.

“Xabi is a very good player but this kind of thing happens in football," he reflected.

“Teams are changing all the time. Xabi played very well for Liverpool but that’s all history now and we have to move on.

"We have to look forward. That’s what Xabi is doing with Real Madrid and we have to do the same.

"We have a lot of good players still here and we are all determined to go one better in the league after coming so close to winning the title last season."

Aquilani, who is reportedly the replacement that Rafael Benitez had in mind when Alonso first asked to leave the club, has arrived in the UK and will be subject to a stringent medical by the Merseyside club.

Why Roma Players Are Happy For Alberto Aquilani To Move To Liverpool FC

Who is Alberto Aquilani? That is the question many Liverpool supporters have been asking during the past week after it emerged the Roma midfielder was being lined up as a replacement for Xabi Alonso.

Only true Serie A aficionados would claim to possess anything more than just a sketchy knowledge of the 25-year-old Italy international who is poised to complete a £20million move to Anfield.

But it’s not the first time Rafael Benitez has tested the faith of Liverpool fans by spending big on a creative midfielder largely unheralded on these shores.

Five years ago, it was the arrival of Alonso that had the Anfield faithful scratching their heads. However, the Spaniard left for Real Madrid earlier this week having cemented his place in club folklore, not least for his efforts in helping Benitez’s side claim the European Cup in 2005.

Aquilani has some act to follow. But, according to his Roma team-mates, Liverpool are gaining a genuine talent.

I am sorry about Alberto, who, as well as being a friend, is a great player and a Roman. He will be missed,” says Francesco Totti, Roma’s talismanic playmaker.

Another Roma midfielder, Daniele De Rossi, was equally salutary.

“We will lose a great player,” says the Italy international. “He’s a footballer with exceptional skill and above all he grew up in Roma’s academy and has a love for this shirt that you cannot buy. But if you think about his career I think it would be a good opportunity, he would grow a lot by being close to the best midfielder in the world – Steven Gerrard.”

“Aquilani will do well at Liverpool,” says Giuseppe Giannini, a key presence in Roma’s midfield during the 1980s and 90s.

“He would not have any problems adapting to the Premier League. English football is perfect for Aquilani. He has all the right characteristics to do well there. He will show Liverpool what he is all about.

“I have no doubts that Liverpool will sign a great player in Aquilani.”

But for all the plaudits, there remains a question mark hanging over Aquilani. The midfielder has only recently returned from an ankle operation, and his fitness concerns mean he made only 14 league appearances last season and 21 the campaign before that.

Aquilani hasn’t played since Roma’s Champions League defeat by Arsenal, and De Rossi admits: “His many injuries have maybe meant that he's been forgotten about a bit, but I am sure that if he leaves we will regret it.”

Lucas Considers Liverpool Exit

Lucas Leiva is the latest Liverpool player to consider an Anfield exit this summer.

Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa have already left for Real Madrid and now Lucas is weighing up his options with Corinthians interested in taking him back to Brazil.

The 22-year-old midfielder has started only 25 league games since arriving from Gremio for £6million in 2007 and had hoped to become a regular following Alonso's departure.

But the Reds have moved quickly for Roma's Alberto Aquilani and Lucas admits he wants to leave if he remains a fringe player for the Reds this season.

"You have to see what Benitez plans but the president of Corinthians already knows I am interested and what I want," he told the Sun.

Lucas is believed to have held talks with Corinthians chief Andre Sanches, who claims the negotiations "are progressing well."

Liverpool Target A Centre Half But Silva Lining Unlikely

Respected authority on Spanish football Guillem Balague has revealed that Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez could make one more signing in the transfer window, and it could be a centre half. However, Balague also predicts that it is unlikely Liverpool can afford Valencia wideman David Silva.

Writing on, the Spaniard relayed:

"Rafa Benitez may make just one further significant signing this summer, and that could well be a centre back. Once the purchase of Aquilani has been completed, Liverpool do not have the funds available to sign David Silva.

"It would take at least €28 million to prize Silva away from the Mestalla, and that fee is beyond what Liverpool are able to spend on one player at the moment.

"David Silva is a player he [Benitez] likes very much, but there is a limit to what will be paid and, now that Benayoun has proven his worth, the Spanish international is not an absolute priority for Benitez.

"At the start of the summer, when it became clear that Silva was going to cost upwards of €20 million, Rafa dropped his interest, and now that Benayoun has been given an improved contract, the Liverpool boss is not going to change his mind and, even if he did, he does not have the funds."

Liverpool Set To Net £15m Shirt Sponsor

Liverpool, despite the serious financial difficulties facing American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, are confident of quickly finding a big-money shirt sponsor to replace Carlsberg.

The lager brand are not expected to renew their 17-year association with the club when their £8million-a-year deal expires at the end of the season, especially with Liverpool looking to almost double the price to £15m a year and Carlsberg's exclusive negotiating period having finished.

London-based international banking giants Standard Chartered, who just lost out to insurance broker Aon for Manchester United's shirt deal, are already the leading candidates for the Liverpool kit.

The fact that they were competing strongly with Aon, who are paying £20m a year for the United sponsorship for four years from 2010-11, also suggests the bank would meet the steep Liverpool asking price, even in a recession.

A £15m annual contract with Standard Chartered, whose sponsorships include the Bangkok marathon, would put Liverpool level with Chelsea, who have recently extended their deal with Samsung at that rate until 2013.

Liverpool Midfielder Javier Mascherano Will Be Ready For Start Of Season

Argentinian Javier Mascherano was granted extra time off in the post-season following the birth of his second daughter, and is now playing catch-up with the rest of the squad.

“Maybe I need a little bit more work because I arrived back when my team-mates had already been back 10 days,” he told “But I will be in a good position by the start of the new season."

Reflecting on Liverpool's 2-0 victory against FC Lyn in Oslo, Mascherano felt it was significant to get a result.

“We didn't do well against Espanyol so it was important to win,” he said. “It's pre-season but we knew we had to improve because in 10 days we start the Premier League.

“There are a lot of positive things to take from this game, like a clean sheet. We know we still have to improve but we are happy and now we have one more game to improve even more.” he continued.

“After Saturday's game against Atletico we'll have seven days to get in top condition for the Premier League.” he concluded.